Liverpool star Divock Origi has spoken about how he was racially abused by an opponent’s father at the age of 12.
The striker was playing for Belgian club Genk at the time of the incident and said he was shouted at and called ‘things that weren’t human’ after his side went four goals ahead during the youth fixture.
Origi narrated the story in a five minute Instagram TV video for Bleacher Report, explaining how he is still affected by what happened.
‘He was standing there. Older, Caucasian guy, grey hair, just yelling at me. He was racially abusing me, calling me all sorts of names,’ Origi said.
‘I remember looking at him and the more I looked at him, the more he went aggressive.
‘Saying that I’m older because of my skin colour, because I was taller.
“I remember my dad wishing he could be there to protect me.”
‘Even me saying what he said is a bit painful, that’s how deep it went. Literally racially abusing me and comparing me to things that are not human.
‘And it’s not even that I looked at him badly or said anything wrong. I tried to continue the game but I couldn’t so I broke down crying.
‘It’s the first time I broke down ever in front of a lot of people. My team-mates just looking like, “what just happened?” You know, it’s a grown man, you’re 12 years old. What just happened?’
The forward said he was caught off guard and questioned what made the man want to attack him so much just because he was having a good game against his son.
The 25-year-old also described how he felt humiliated and vulnerable after the incident.
‘I remember the way back home was quite tough because you’re in a state where you feel humiliated. You feel attacked. You feel vulnerable.
‘As a 12-year-old, you don’t really have the full understanding to be able to put it in the right perspective. So eventually, you just end up with a lot of sadness and that’s when you go to your parents and my dad is somebody I respect a lot.
‘I remember asking “why, why did he do this? Why would somebody do something like that?”
‘And the only thing my dad could do is to show compassion, and even though he wasn’t there, I remember him wish that he could be there to protect me.
‘The one thing he did say is that there’s something you might not be able to understand but it’s about focusing more on yourself and who you are and embracing where you come from.
‘Because there are people that are not happy or don’t want to celebrate the fact that you have a different skin tone.’
When asked what he would say to his younger self, the Champions League and Premier League winner replied: ‘My message to a 12-year-old Divock would be to keep on going. Keep shining your light.’